Public health experts say the flu season came early this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning that influenza activity has been increasing since November.
While the CDC states on its website that an annual flu vaccine is “the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses,” you may still get the flu because this year the vaccine may not be as effective as years past.
The H3N2 flu strain appears to be dominating US flu cases. It hit the Southern Hemisphere particularly hard this year. Australia reported more than two and a half times more cases of mostly H3N2. The current flu vaccine protects against the H1N1 but less so against the H3N2 strain because while scientists were manufacturing the vaccine H3N2 mutated.
Business Insider reports that, “it’s not a harmful defect, but it means that the non-live strain of H3N2 influenza in the injection is slightly different than what’s actually circulating in the human population.”
Despite the mutation, the CDC still recommends getting vaccinated because it can lower your chances significantly of catching the flu, but not by much this year.
Here are some cautionary measures you can also take to protect yourself and your loved ones:
Meditation and Exercise – A study from the University of Wisconsin reported that meditation and exercise could decrease significantly the chances of developing cold or flu symptoms. That’s because they help mediate stress. When you’re stressed your immune system can become compromised. Meditation and exercise calm those stress hormones that kick you off balance.
Sleep – Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep does so much to re-energize our bodies. It allows the brain to detox itself, it improves memory, it helps control blood sugar and many other benefits that keep the immune system and body healthy. The National Sleep Foundation advises, “don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done — stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.”
Eat Well – Your susceptibility to influenza can rise if you’re not eating the right foods that support the immune system. If you do Paleo the optimal way you will consume high-nutrition meals consisting of mainly vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, and fruits. These foods play major roles with boosting the immune’s systems defenses while fighting inflammatory response.
Clean Hands – Washing your hands with old fashioned soap throughout the day will minimize the spread of harmful germs, viruses and bacteria. Use soaps free of triclosan, phthalates or anything that says “antibacterial.” The CDC recommends that if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Even with clean hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to minimize risk of self-contamination. If you sneeze, sneeze into the crook of your elbow or sleeve and not your hands.
If you do catch the flu (or a cold) seek medical attention immediately. If it’s the flu, your doctor may be able to treat you with antiviral drugs that stop the ability of the virus from reproducing. Give yourself time to rest. If you don’t need to be a caretaker, stay away from sick people.
To help prevent or shorten the common cold or flu, I recommend my Cold + Flu Kit . The kit is a combination of supplements that I have found very effective at shortening the duration of the cold or flu. It can be taken in tandem with any additional medications or as means of prevention. It’s a unique combination of probiotics, vitamin C, and antioxidants that support your immune system. The kit includes special preventative as well as sick instructions.
Enjoy the festivities of the season but be aware of self-care. Awareness of things you may be doing—or not doing—could be your best line of defense against colds and influenza.